Matt McQuaid

AP Photo/Winslow Townson

No. 12 Michigan State makes 16 3s, beats Northwestern 76-45

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EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Denzel Valentine made five of Michigan State’s season-high 16 3-pointers and the 12th-ranked Spartans clamped down on cold-shooting Northwestern for a 76-45 victory Thursday night.

Valentine finished with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Spartans (18-4, 5-4 Big Ten) beat the Wildcats for the seventh straight time. Matt McQuaid scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and freshman Deyonta Davis had eight points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Northwestern (15-7, 3-6) shot a season-low 20.7 percent from the field in its fourth consecutive loss. It finished with more free throws (17) than field goals (12).

Bryant McIntosh had 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting for the Wildcats, and Aaron Falzon finished with 11 points. Redshirt senior Tre Demps was 2 for 14 from the field, missing each of his seven 3-point attempts.

Valentine scored 14 points in the first half, and then focused on more of a distributing role as the Spartans pulled away in the second half.

Northwestern closed to 41-29 on Alex Olah’s two free throws with 16:44 left, but Michigan State responded with a 13-2 run. McQuaid had the final 11 points of the spurt, including three 3s – two of them coming off passes from Valentine.

It just got worse from there for the Wildcats, with little-used Matt Van Dyk giving the Spartans their biggest lead of the game with a fast-break dunk in the final seconds. Michigan State shot 51 percent (28 for 55) from the field, including its 16-for-26 night from long range.

TIP-INS

Michigan State: Valentine’s 3-pointer with 8:06 left in the second half moved him past Julius McCoy (1,377) for No. 23 on the school’s career scoring list. … The Spartans’ previous season high was 12 3-pointers in a 78-35 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 9.

Northwestern: The Wildcats have one game left in their first stretch of four straight against ranked opponents since the 1989-90 season. They take on No. 3 Iowa on Sunday. … Northwestern went 17 for 19 from the free-throw line, compared to 4 for 4 for the Michigan State.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: hosts Rutgers on Sunday.

Northwestern: visits No. 3 Iowa on Sunday.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap